New laws, lawmakers bring big changes to 2012 - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

New laws, lawmakers bring big changes to 2012

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - A set of controversial new laws go into effect in Tennessee, Mississippi and Arkansas on New Year's Day.

In Arkansas, the definition of abortion clinics came under debate in the House of Representatives.

"It's not an anti-abortion bill, it's not a pro-abortion bill," said Arkansas Rep. Butch Wilkins (D).  "It is a regulatory bill."

Act 1176 passed.  Any agency offering the morning after pill is classified as an abortion clinic if they administer 10 or more pills each month.

Supporters said state inspections will keep patients safe.  Opponents said the facilities will have to make unnecessary and expensive upgrades usually reserved for surgical abortion clinics.

"It's a government regulation intended to impose a substantial obstacle," said Arkansas attorney Bettina Brownstein.

In Tennessee, voters must now have photo IDs to vote.  Supporters said it keeps the process legal.

"If you're a legal voter, you'll be able to vote," said Tennessee Rep. Debra Maggart (R).

Opponents are appealing the law, calling it an obstruction for student and senior citizen voters, who are traditionally Democrats.

"Voting is supposed to be a level playing field," said Mary Mancini with Tennessee Citizen Action.  "It's the most basic right we all have."

In Mississippi, the laws are taking a backstage to the people who will be making them.

"Republicans have the House, they have the Senate, so it's up to us now to do the things we promised we were going to do," said Mississippi Senator Sean Tindell (R).

Democrats are the clear minority in the incoming Mississippi State Legislature.

"At the end of the day, it's going to take some collaborative effort," said Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant.

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